Retirement is a word I’ve tried to purge from my vocabulary. Few people really know what it means anymore. Instead, I like to think of retirement as being a stage in life where you get to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, and with whom. It can also be that time when you attain financial independence and no longer intend or need to earn an income to support your lifestyle.Sometimes, however, “early retirement” can throw us a curve ball before we’re prepared for it or ready to become financially independent. This often comes in the form of a job layoff, termination, or health issues that require we no longer work for an income.Here are some action steps for an unexpected early retirement:1. Immediately become aware of your monthly expenses. If you don’t track expenses, now would be a good time to go back over the last 12 months of expenditures and set up a cash flow tracking program like mint.com or quickbooksonline.com.